Addis Ababa is home to sub-Saharan Africa's first light rail system

The recent launch of Addis Metro is a move by the Ethiopian government to cure the country's commuting headache.

The launch of the Addis Metro by the Ethiopian government is a momentous move for both Addis Ababans and sub-Saharan Africa. The new railway system is the first of its kind in the region.

The 32 kilometre long railway, which will expand to 39 stations across the city, is expected to carry 15 000 commuters at 70 kilometres per hour in one direction. The Ethiopian government began construction on the railway following the swift population and economic growth in the country and the subsequent need for a fast and modern transportation service.  

The population of Addis is currently at 3.4 million people and it is forecasted that Ethiopia’s economy will grow eight per cent in the next fiscal year, making the country the second-fastest growing on the continent

Overhead wires and a grid dedicated to Addis Metro will supply the carriages with the 160 megawatts of power that they need.

The China Railway Group built the railway over three years and the Ethiopian government secured 85 per cent of the funding from China’s Exim Bank. In total, the building the railway amounted to $475 million. The Chinese will also train the drivers and maintenance staff.

The only other light rail systems in Africa are found in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – all North African countries.

The Nigerian government is also working towards the launch of a Lagos Metro. The government has unfortunately missed their September 2014 deadline. 

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